The sixth proposition agreed upon by the Rev. E. G. van Teylingen and Dr. F. L. Bos reads as follows:

“That the demand of faith and repentance (conversion) which in the gospel comes to all that are comprehended in the covenant and congregation of God is completely founded on the covenant promise and is dominated and determined thereby according to the word of the Lord: “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it”.

Regarding this proposition we remark the following:

  1. By “all who are comprehended in the church and covenant of God” the subscribers to this proposition mean in the light of proposition 3 “all the children of the congregation, head for head”. Concerning this we have written before.
  2. To all these children comes the demand of faith and repentance. To this we have no objection; in fact, this demand does not only come to all the children of the church and to all that are comprehended in the covenant of God, but also to those that are without, to all that hear the preaching of the gospel. This is plainly taught in Canons of Dordt, II, 5: “Moreover, the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction to whom God of His good pleasure sends the gospel.” And it is also implied in Canons III, IV, 8: “As many as are called by the gospel, are unfeignedly called. For God hath most earnestly and truly declared in His word, what will be acceptable to Him; namely, that all who are called, should come to Him. He, moreover, seriously promises eternal life and rest to as many as shall come to Him, and believe on Him.”
  3. But the question is: what do the brethren mean by the last part of this proposition in connection with the first? Is the demand of faith and repentance completely founded upon, dominated and determined by the promise for all the children of believers? Of course, they cannot mean this, especially not in the light of the text quoted and in the light of the next proposition, which plainly speaks of the fact that the promise of God is not fulfilled in all the children of the covenant, that is, in all the children of believers. For if the promise of God were so completely fulfilled in all the children of believers, they would surely come to faith and repentance and would surely be saved. And this cannot possibly be the meaning of the proposition.

I am afraid, therefore, that also in this proposition we have a mixture as the result of a compromise between the Rev. van Teylingen and Dr. Bos.

Dr. Bos, of course, would insist as a liberated man upon the theory that the covenant promise is for all the children of believers. At the same time he emphasizes that the realization of the promise demands on the part of the covenant children faith and repentance.

On the other hand, the Rev. van Teylingen suggests emphatically that the Lord God will surely fulfill His promise; and this promise includes the Holy Spirit and faith, whereby the children of the covenant are led to repentance.

And so they subscribe together to the wrong and impossible proposition that God surely fulfills the promise of faith and repentance to all the children of believers.

I would suggest that they rewrite this proposition clearly as follows:

“The demand of faith and repentance certainly comes to all the children of believers without exception, but they never will or can fulfill this demand unless the promise of God is first fulfilled in them, a promise which He will surely fulfill in all the elect children of the covenant, for ‘faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.’”

Proposition seven reads as follows:

“That the sovereignly dominating promise of God only is not being fulfilled to and in those who ‘have counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith they were sanctified, an unholy thing, and have done despite unto the Spirit of grace’ (Heb. 10:29), and thus break the covenant of God; something which presupposes in its deepest sense the awful truth that God in His good pleasure has determined in regard to some to leave them ‘in the common misery into which they have willfully plunged themselves, and not to bestow upon them saving faith and the grace of conversion’ (Canons of Dordt I, 15), as it is written, ‘The stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.’ (I Peter 2:7, 8).”

With this proposition we can have no dispute, of course. It speaks entirely the language of our confessions and of Scripture. And although that language, as far as the quotation from the Canons is concerned, is entirely infralapsarian, while we prefer the supra view, yet, as far as it goes we can very well agree with it. Nevertheless, we would call attention of the Rev. van Teylingen and Dr. Bos to the fact that this proposition is not in harmony with proposition six. It clearly states that the promise of God, including the Holy Spirit and faith unto repentance, is not fulfilled in all but only in the elect children of the covenant.

The eighth proposition refers to the Canons of Dordt I, 17, speaking of the salvation of infants that die in their infancy.

“That the children of the Church dying in childhood must believingly be reckoned to belong to the elect, ‘while we are to judge of the will of God from His word, which testifies that the children of grace, in which they, together with the parents, are comprehended’ (Canons of Dordt I, 17), even as they ‘are graciously delivered by God out of this life before they broke the conditions of the covenant’ (Netherland Theologians, Dordrecht, 1618-19).”

Also this proposition in the main quotes an article of the Confession. But it must be noted that in the proposition the article of the confession is not only (quoted but also interpreted. And with the interpretation we cannot agree. A proposition like this is a good example how certain interpretations of the confession may gradually take the place of the confession itself. The confession in its positive statement really declares something about godly parents. It says that they “have no reason to doubt of the election and salvation of their children, whom it pleaseth God to call out of this life in their infancy.” And this to my mind is something quite different from what the proposition declares, namely, that all the children of the church without exception that die in their infancy must be considered as belonging to the elect.

And the quotation from the Netherland Theologians certainly does not improve the proposition.

It is plain that those Netherland Theologians intend to furnish a certain ground or reason for the article of the Canons, the reason being that God graciously delivers out of this life the children of the covenant that die in their infancy before they break the conditions of the covenant. And I am glad that this opinion of the Netherland Theologians was not included in the article itself. To speak of conditions of the covenant is hardly Reformed. There are no conditions in the covenant of God. He establishes His covenant unconditionally. What is referred to as conditions is probably expressed in the second part (not parties!) of the covenant as described in the Baptism Form: “Therefore are we by God through baptism admonished of and obliged unto new obedience, namely, that we cleave to this one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; that we trust in him, and love him with all our hearts, and with all our souls, and with all our mind, and with all our strength; that we forsake the world, crucify our old nature, and walk in a new and holy life.” But these are not conditions of God’s establishing His covenant with us, but rather the fruit and manifestation of the covenant of God in and through us. And therefore we do not believe that the opinion of the Netherland Theologians improves this proposition at all.